Piper on The Kingdom of God

I have been listening to various sermons by John Piper on The Kingdom of God. In one sermon on Romans 14:16-19, Piper takes a minute to briefly define what ‘The Kingdom’ is. This concept, ‘The Kingdom of God’, ‘The Kingdom of Christ’, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’, or just ‘The Kingdom’, seems to be used, but often misunderstood. So, below is a short synopsis of what Piper says The Kingdom of God is:

“This is the only place in the book of Romans where Paul uses the word “kingdom.” But he uses it elsewhere and we can know what he means by “kingdom of God.” Four clarifications:

1) First, he means the reign of God, not the realm of God. We tend to think of a kingdom as a place. But for Jesus and for Paul it almost never has that meaning. Rather it means the reign or the rule of God. You can see that here: Where the Holy Spirit is bringing about righteousness and peace and joy, the kingdom (that is, the reign of God) is being manifested.

2) The kingdom of God refers to his saving reign, not to his total providence over all things. In one sense God reigns over all. So you could call everything “God’s kingdom.” But that is clearly not the way Paul uses the term. The kingdom of God is God’s redemptive reign. His saving reign. When Jesus said to pray, “Hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 9-10), he meant that the coming of the kingdom would be the extent of God’s rule where his name is hallowed and his will is done the way angels do it—obediently and joyfully. So the kingdom of God is God’s reign, not realm; and it is his saving, redeeming reign bringing about the hallowing of his name and the joyful doing of his will.

3) The kingdom of God is fulfilled partially in the present and will be consummated at the end of the age when Christ comes a second time. Paul speaks of unbelievers not inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9), and so treats the kingdom as yet future. But then he also says to believers that “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” and so treats the kingdom as already present.

4) The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Christ are the same. He says in Ephesians 5:5, “Everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” There is one kingdom, and it is the kingdom of Christ and of God. So to serve the kingdom of God is to serve Christ, and to serve Christ is to serve the kingdom of God.

So Paul is saying in verse 16, Don’t use your good—your good faith and your good liberty and your good food—to hurt anyone. Don’t put that much weight on eating and drinking. It’s not that crucial. Why? He answers in verse 17: Because “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The saving, redeeming, sanctifying rule of God—the kingdom of God—has broken into this world in Jesus Christ, the Messiah—the King—and the evidence of his rule in your lives is not eating and drinking. You may think that your liberty to eat all things is what God’s kingdom produces. But that’s not quite right. What the kingdom produces is something deeper and larger that governs how you use your liberty to eat all things.”

(If you are interested you can read the synopsis, listen to, or watch the full sermon)

If you are interested in learning more, I recommend listening to Is The Kingdom Present or Future? and then How is the Kingdom Present?


11 Responses to “Piper on The Kingdom of God”

  1. 1 Matt Svoboda February 27, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Graeme GOldspworthy has an excellent and simple definition of the Kingdom of God. It is God’s Rule in God’s Place with God’s people!

  2. 2 Babysitter June 21, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Babysitter

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